I literally lept from my chair when I saw it and I heard it. Fransico Mela, of the Crash Trio, did the best hesitation wind-up crash hit on the drum kit I have ever seen! It was a fitting exclamation point to a fabulous week of jazz presented by the Historic Colored Musicians Club.
The closing concert at Ashbury Hall on Saturday night, July 28th featured the Cuban-born drummer Fransico Mela and the Crash Trio. If the Cuban-born reference makes you think this was a Latin or Cuban extravaganza, don’t. Talking with Mela afterward, I asked who his drummer influencers were. Sure enough, Art Blakely, Elvin Jones, Victor Lewis, and etc. The great drummers who took drumming to an improvisational level in jazz. Hard driving and lots of heavy crashing!
The tunes performed during the evening were exquisite. In part, driven by the beautiful playing of Santiago Liebson on piano. Mela’s intent is a modern twist on pure hard driving post-bop straight ahead music. In a similar vein, the type we experience with tenor saxophonist Melissa Aldana, who did a stint with the Crash Trio for a few years.
Preceding the closing concert was the annual free portion of the festival held outdoors and indoors at the Historic Color Musicians Club location in downtown Buffalo. The festival showcased some of Buffalo’s tremendous talents in jazz throughout the afternoon. Highlights, of the many, included:
- Catching the French Conexion exciting European blend of jazz music
- The always captivating Carina and the Six String Preacher original music
- The Andrew Nixon Trio with Ed Croft and Joe Goretti performing Chick Corea’s “Spain” and McCoy Tyner’s “Passion Dance”
- Kevin Doyle’s “Why Not?” that included Joe Goretti, Brian DeJesus, and Nelson Rivera, showing great poise in the rain and super playing by Rivera and DeJesus on Doyle’s composition “Mystic Places”
- Catching the blend of smooth jazz and R&B by the sax-driven music of Kevin Hall
Congratulations go out to the Historic Colored Musicians Club and their staff, as well as, volunteers for the second year presentation of a week-long festival. Hats off to Walter Kemp, III, serving as Music and Artistic Director for the festival, for the hard work that goes into lining up international jazz artists and the Saturday presentation of local jazz talents. Once again, putting on display great jazz the city of Buffalo should be proud of!
Enjoy the following fabulous gallery of photos by our friend of JazzBuffalo, photographer Jack Zuff. Also, enjoy the fantastic photo gallery from Mara Rubin, who traveled up from Westfield, NY multiple days to take in the concerts and capture them with her camera.
Photos by Jack Zuff:
Photos by Mara Rubin: